Notre Dame, Holy Week and the Crown of Thorns

By David Carollo, Executive Director –

We were all struck with sadness on Monday as we watched the famed Cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris burn. As I watched, I thought of the treasures within that magnificent structure dedicated to Our Lady. I thought of the most sacred of the relics housed within this historic edifice – the Crown of Thorns, with fragments believed to have been worn by Jesus. 

When I heard that the Blessed Sacrament and this treasured relic of the Passion were saved by Father Jean-Marc Fournier, chaplain of the Paris fire department, in a human chain with a number of firefighters, I was relieved and struck with a sense of awe. Despite the indifference that permeates society today, there are those who step up when heroic acts are needed.

How noteworthy it is that this tragedy would occur during Holy Week, a week of penitence and reflection. Notre Dame is a symbol of Catholic France, often called the first daughter of the Church. The Cathedral of Notre Dame took over a century to build, more than a lifetime for virtually anyone. Those who saw the beginning of its construction never saw its completion. During the French Revolution, the church was pillaged and much of the sacred art was destroyed; but later it was restored after those who perpetrated this outrage were gone.

As this building lies in ruins today I think of that rescued Crown of Thorns, which reminds us of the suffering and apparent destruction of Our Lord on Good Friday. A few days later, on Easter Sunday, He made all things new again. Those of us in the West must reflect on this tragedy in Paris and recall the foundation of our society.  

Like a human chain, may we all unite in working to restore it through our heroic actions of prayer and sacrifice. May the blessings of the Resurrection bring us to a true understanding of our purpose in life.

Happy Easter to you and your families. I invite you to enroll your loved ones in our Easter Novena at the Shrine, which begins on Easter Sunday.

David Carollo
Executive Director

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